Extracts of Coleus forskohlii relieves cough and asthma symptoms via modulating inflammation and the extracellular matrix

J Cell Biochem. 2019 Jun;120(6):9648-9655. doi: 10.1002/jcb.28243. Epub 2018 Dec 5.


Asthma is characterized by airway inflammatory infiltration, which leads to airway remodeling and airway hyperreactivity. Coleus forskohlii (CFK) has been used to treat asthma, however, the mechanism involved is not clear. To explore the antiasthma mechanism of extracts of Coleus forskohlii (ECFK), guinea pigs were administered with a spray of phosphoric acid histamine, and rats were sensitized with ovalbumin (OVA). Hematoxylin and eosin staining (H&E) were used to evaluate pathological changes in lung tissue. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to determine cytokine levels in serum and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis were used to assess the expression of intercellular cell adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), phosphorylation of p65 (p-p65), matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP-9), and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP-1). After ECFK treatment, the asthma incubation period of guinea pigs was significantly prolonged. The H&E results showed that the number of eosinophils in the 12.8 g/kg ECFK group was significantly lower when compared with the control group. Moreover, ELISA results demonstrated that interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, and IL-17 in serum and BALF were significantly decreased, and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and IL-10 were increased after ECFK treatment. In addition, ECFK treatment resulted in downregulation of ICAM-1, p-p65, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 in lung tissue after being sensitized by OVA. In conclusion, our findings indicated that ECFK significantly alleviated OVA-induced inflammatory infiltration and airway remodeling in asthma. This study laid a theoretical foundation for the clinical use of ECFK.

Keywords: asthma; extracts of Coleus forskohlii; inflammation; mechanism; treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Airway Remodeling / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Cough / drug therapy*
  • Cough / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plectranthus / chemistry*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Cytokines
  • Plant Extracts